Prosecutors from the US Department of Justice [official website] dropped manslaughter charges [JURIST report] against one of the defendants in November. Five defendants pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to manslaughter and weapons charges last January. The five guards were indicted [JURIST report] in December 2008 on charges of voluntary manslaughter, attempt to commit manslaughter, and using and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, which carries a 30-year mandatory minimum sentence. A sixth guard pleaded guilty to charges of voluntary manslaughter and attempt to commit manslaughter for his role in the same incident. The Blackwater incident caused domestic outrage in Iraq and has prompted legal controversy in the US. A FBI inquiry into the incident concluded that the shootings were unjustified [JURIST report]. Iraq security contractors lost their immunity from prosecution under the new US Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq that was approved [JURIST reports] in December 2008.
Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible, ad-free format.